Compared to many other common equine injuries, soft tissue injuries can require some of the more lengthy recovery and rehabilitation plans. A bowed tendon, for example, can require months of stall rest and hand walking before a horse can return to a paddock or pasture, let alone to work. If not treated properly and given enough time to heal, tendon injuries can also be susceptible to re-injury.
The main reason for this is that tendons heal by laying down scar tissue, rather than replacing specialized fibers, and that process in a tendon injury, on average, takes about nine months to complete.
Veterinarians often use ultrasonography to identify tendon injuries and monitor healing, but after the initial months of the healing process, it becomes difficult to tell a difference between healthy and injured tendon tissue via ultrasound. In human medicine, however, sonoelastography is often used to monitor tendon recovery and remodeling so an informed and fluid assessment can be made of the injury's recovery progression and the person's return to normal use.
This technique offers specialists a color image of the tendon, with different colors representing levels of firmness of the tissue, with red areas depicting soft, highly elastic tissues and blue and green areas showing where the tendon is firmest and least elastic.
A small study of Thoroughbred racehorses tested the feasibility of sonoelastography in horses. The images gave practitioners highly specialized information about the tendon health and injury recovery of their equine patients, though more studies are needed.
“Tendon health can also be improved through dietary supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. Typically associated with joint and cartilage health, these ingredients also support soft tissues, including tendons and ligaments,” advised Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., a nutritionist with Kentucky Equine Research (KER).
Read more about tendon health and supplements that can support it at Equinews.
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